Is my Baby Growing Properly?
Before you give birth, you probably have a lot of questions about caring for a newborn. One of the most important questions surrounds a baby’s growth and development. How do I know if my baby is growing enough? How do I accurately weigh my baby at home?
In this post, we will answer these questions and more. You’ll learn how doctor’s access growth and an easy way you can do it at home, too.
The suggestions in this post are general guidelines. To be sure your baby is healthy, you should attend regular check-ups.
Should You Weigh Your Newborn?
Weighing your newborn is important for several reasons: To track your baby’s growth; see how they’re responding to feeding or care changes; or to see how they’re recovering from an illness.
When you see consistent growth, you know your baby is developing well and getting the nutrients he or she needs.
Newborns are weighted during their hospital stay. Sometimes they will also be weighed 48-72 after discharge. Growth check-up frequency depends on whether there are any health concerns. Typically, a baby will be weighed one week after birth during their first check-up. They may also be weighted the following week.
Your pediatrician will weigh and measure your baby during each check-up. These numbers will be recorded on a chart to determine if your baby is developing as expected.
Although your doctor will have the most accurate advice, many mothers also choose to weigh their babies at home in between check-ups. This is because they feel it gives them a general sense of how quickly their baby is growing.
Since most babies don’t see doctors weekly, tracking their weight at home can serve as an anxiety-reliever. This may be especially true if your baby’s growth is slower than average or if you’re having trouble breastfeeding,
Many mothers also find it interesting to see how much their baby is growing each week. If you track it in a journal, it can also be a keepsake.
How Much Should My Newborn Weigh?
Babies born full term will typically weigh between 6 and 9 lbs. Babies born around or after their due date will typically weigh more than those born earlier.
A premature baby is smaller and weighs less than other newborns. In general, the earlier the baby is born, the smaller he or she will be. This is because he or she missed growing time inside the womb, so they will need to make up for it after birth.
If a doctor classifies a baby as having a “low birth weight,” that means they weigh less than 5 lbs 8 oz. “Very low birth weight” means that a baby is less than 3 lbs 5 oz.
In the first 5-7 days after you give birth, it’s likely your baby will lose weight. This is because babies are born with a few ounces of extra fluid. If you choose to formula-feed your baby, a 5% weight loss is considered normal. If you breastfeed, a 7-10% loss should be expected.
Your baby should gain back this weight within 10-14 days after labor. If the weight loss was significant because the newborn is sick or premature, it can take up to 3 weeks to gain back his or her birth weight.
For the first few months, you can expect your newborn to gain about 5-7 oz a week. By 3-4 months, many babies have doubled their weight.
Research shows that by 4 months, the weight of a baby differs depending on whether they are breast or formula-fed. Many growth charts are based on the expected growth of formula-fed babies. If you’re weighing your newborn at home, make sure you’re taking this into account. When your doctor tracks your baby’s growth, make sure they are also aware of how your baby is fed so they can make an accurate assessment.
How to Track a Newborn’s Weight
If you wish to track your baby’s growth at home, you can use the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) growth chart for boys or the growth chart for girls.
When you first open these charts, they can look very confusing. Basically, these charts tell you how your child should be growing in relation to other healthy babies. The first thing you can find is how tall your baby should be for their age (up to 24 months).
They also tell you their weight-for-age percentile. This number lets you know how your baby’s weight measures up compared to a reference population of the same age. For example, say a 3-month old’s weight is in the 30th percentile. That means she weighs the same or more than 30% of the reference population of 3-month-olds. She weighs less than 70% of the same population.
Since these charts are the most accurate, they are likely what your pediatrician will use. If you also wish to use these charts, the CDC has developed a free online training course. It’s used to teach healthcare providers and others how to measure and assess a child’s growth up to 2 years.
If that sounds too complicated, you can reference more simplified charts at home. This chart is based on information from the WHO’s growth chart. It tells you the average height and weight of babies the same age and gender. However, it’s important to note that some babies fall outside of these numbers since these are just general guidelines (which is why doctors use the more complicated charts above). If you have any concerns, talk to your doctor.
If your baby was born premature, you may choose to reference this premature growth chart. Again, it’s possible for babies to be smaller or larger than these averages, yet still healthy.
Other Ways to Track Weight
Another way to see if your baby is getting the right nutrients is to assess their food intake. If you’re breastfeeding, you can expect your baby to feed about 8 times a day and nurse for at least 10 minutes each time. Formula-fed babies typically eat less often (around every 4 hours) and can consume up to 4 oz each time. Regardless of feeding method, babies should seem satisfied when finished.
After week one, a newborn should have around 5-7 wet diapers a day and 3-4 dirty diapers, according to the American Pregnancy Association. It’s normal for this amount to change over time. Formula-fed babies may also have fewer dirty diapers.
While these methods can help you gauge whether your baby is getting the right nutrients, you should still attend weight check-ups to be sure.
Which Is The Best Baby Scale?
There are two ways to weigh your baby at home. The first is to deduct your own weight from the weight of both you and your baby on the scale. For this method, some people use their regular bathroom scale. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends against it because bathroom scales are typically unreliable.
The second way to weigh your baby at home is to use a baby scale that will measure only your baby’s weight.
What should you look for in a baby scale? According to the WHO, some features for good baby scales include:
- Electronic/digital reading
- Can measure with precision
We recommend this MiniMax Digital Baby Scale Kit because it meets the above requirements recommended by the WHO.
The MiniMax Digital Baby Scale Kit is also a good option because:
- It can weigh babies up to 40 lbs
- It can read both in pounds and kilograms
- It uses the most reliable weigh sensors to precisely measure the baby’s weight
- It comes with a growth chart for your reference and convenience
How to use MiniMax Digital Baby Scale Kit:
- Make sure the scale reads 0 when nothing is on it.
- Press the “On” button.
- If you’re using a blanket, place the blanket on the scale. When it reads the weight, press the “Tare” button. This will zero out the blanket weight (basically subtracting the blanket weight from the weight of your baby, giving you an accurate reading).
- You’ll notice that the weigh tray has a small indentation or dip where your baby can lay. Lay your naked baby in this dip with the blanket underneath. Make sure to keep one hand hovering over your baby so that you can catch them if they slip.
- Read the weight and record. It helps to dedicate a chart or journal for this purpose.
- If your baby is over or underweight, have your doctor confirm the results. He or she will be able to provide you with advice specific to your baby’s needs and growth.
Do you plan on weighing your baby at home after delivery? If so, comment below your reason why. If you have any pregnant friends, be sure to share this post to help their newborns stay healthy, too!
P.S. Still pregnant? Have you checked out our fetal dopplers? These amazing at-home devices allow you to listen to your baby’s heartbeat while still inside the womb. Check them out here.